February 5, 2023

Top tips: Dental Health in cats and dogs

This article is written by Nikki from our Katikati clinic. 

Just like us, our pets are at risk of dental disease. Plaque (the furry feeling on our teeth) is a bacterium that grows and if left on the teeth it calcifies and turns rock hard into tartar. On average 80% of cats and dogs have a degree of dental disease by the age of 3 years.

Some breeds are more susceptible to dental disease than others such as brachycephalic animals (Pugs, French Bull dogs, Shih Tzu etc.). Small breeds of dogs also have a tendency to have significant dental disease due to the overcrowding of teeth.

Here are some examples of what you can do at home to make sure your pets’ dental health stays in good condition:


This is the gold standard of care to preventing dental disease in cats and dogs. If introduced as puppies and kittens brushing is well tolerated. The brushing needs to be performed every second day at a minimum to be effective and can be performed using a pet tooth brush or a finger brush. The vet nurses have great training tips and tricks for introducing dental brushing into your pet’s regime without it turning into a frustrating game!

Dental Diets

Diet plays a significant part of plaque and tartar accumulation and using dental specific diets can assist in the dental management in your pet. The diets work on the mechanical action of chewing (acting like a tooth brush) where the pet is required to crunch the biscuits several times before it is small enough to swallow. The veterinary approved brands Royal Canin and Hills Science diet also have an enzyme added to the food to prevent tartar accumulation.

Dental Chews

Not all chews are created equal. Many dental chews rely solely on the mechanical action of chewing and when the animal chews the dental chew at lightning speed the benefits are minimal. Using a dental chew such as Oravet acts on the mechanical action and as the pet chews the saliva activates with the wash bar through the centre of the chew stopping plaque from calcifying.  Please stay clear of bones. We see animals with broken teeth, obstructions and constipation frequently as a result of feeding bones.

There are no pet dentures for our pets so we need to look after the teeth they have.